Among them are my big brother, his best friend, my future husband, his two big brothers, our best man and his big brother. Youth, brotherhood, and competition made these guys a team.
Yesterday, we had a guest musician in our service. He didn't play on this team, but against it on a team that rivaled ours in athleticism and records. It's how we came to know Gerald Simmons. He was fiercely competitive in his softball and equally as zealous for the Lord. At the time, he was a budding music minister in a local baptist church that was experiencing a bit of revival. Back then he was confident about his game and his God.
But yesterday, he wept through his testimony, one he doesn't often tell. It involved divorce and middle-aged drug addiction that began innocently with pain-killers after surgery. The tale was rife with losing. Kids. Control. Companies. Dignity. But there was a second wife who refused to accept defeat. She knew a love never backs down and always wins.
So Gerald wept when he said he was the the prodigal son from Luke's chapter about lost things.
Until then, I had always seen the story of the prodigal as the story of salvation, lost being this boy's condition before he humbled himself and returned to the man who could take care of him. But yesterday, through Gerald's prodigal story, I saw that lost things are lost because they once were where they belonged. Only when they turn up missing are things deemed lost. Gerald was the prodigal son. He was a winner who had become a loser. He walked away from God a son and came back hoping to be servant. What was lost now was his pride.
So Luke 15 is about lost things, but it's also about the finding. And the knowing who you are. It's about a celebration for winning after so much losing. It's about winning because you made it home safely. And yesterday, old softball rivals and brothers rejoiced in that.